#342: Turning Back Time
Soon women in America will no longer have the right to an abortion. Since finding out on Tuesday morning about the draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I have felt equal parts shock and rage. Born after Roe v. Wade, my life has corresponded with the expansion of rights in our country. Several of my friends and former students have exercised their liberty and right to choose. Now for the first time, and because of the decision of four men and one woman, we will see the abrogation of a fundamental constitutional right.
Like many of you, I have been trying (and failing) to make sense of it all: reading tons of articles, listening to podcasts, talking with friends. This week’s issue includes two pieces that may be helpful in offering context. The first – “Alito’s Plan To Repeal The 20th Century” – argues that Dobbs not only will ban abortion but will also erase the civil liberties fought for over the past 100 years. The second – “The Roe Baby” – emphasizes the complexities and nuances of the abortion issue. As several of you shared in Issue #312, abortion is complicated, messy, untidy, emotional.
I also understand if you’ve had enough and have no desire to read any more articles about abortion. If so, start with the pet photo and then enjoy a thoughtful antidote to loneliness and a concerning approach to school discipline. My hope is that they will spur your thinking.
+ I hope you take care of yourself this week. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts by hitting reply.
Reversing Roe And The 20th Century
About 100 years ago, the Supreme Court began to expand the rights that we enjoy as Americans. We’ve learned about some of these rights in school: the right to remain silent, the right to privacy, the right to contraception, the right to marry someone of a different race, the right to marry someone of the same sex. The Court protected a space for family, marriage, and children and told the government to back off.
In this thought-provoking essay, Adam Serwer argues that the Supreme Court is now reversing course. With Roe v. Wade overturned, nothing will prevent the state from threatening women’s bodily autonomy. Dobbs is like Plessy v. Ferguson, making a false case for states’ rights and federalism when really the point is segregation and control. For years to come, if the state wants to impose its religious or ideological beliefs on people, thereby constraining their liberty, it will be able to do so. (8 min)
+ Mr. Serwer is excellent and has appeared in this newsletter many times: See Issues #120, #131, #185, #225, and #253 for more of his writing.
Jane Roe’s Baby Tells Her Story
Last September I devoted Issue #311 to Roe. Leading that issue was this outstanding article by Joshua Prager, which profiles Shelley Lynn Thornton, who revealed last year that she is the daughter of Norma McCorvey, also known as Jane Roe. Landmark Supreme Cases like Roe v. Wade are so monumental that sometimes we forget that the litigants were real people living regular lives. In the piece, Ms. Thornton shares her complicated feelings about her mother, her place in history, and the constitutional right to an abortion. She said, “When someone’s pregnant with a baby, and they don’t want that baby, that person develops knowing they’re not wanted.” (28 min)
+ Mr. Prager wrote The Family Roe: An American Story, the recipient of many awards last year. I’m going to read it. Let me know if you want to join me.
Zuzu, who belongs to loyal reader Monica, appreciates all teachers and wishes them a very joyous Teacher Appreciation Week. Nominate your pet to appear in The Highlighter: hltr.co/pets
Tish Harrison Warren: “We need to reconnect with material things: nature, soil, our bodies and other people in real life. Go watch the rain for 10 minutes. Go on a walk with a friend. Get off social media and meet one neighbor. Keep your kids offline. Put your hands in the dirt. Play an instrument instead of a video game. Turn off your smartphone and have dinner with people around a table. Search for beauty and goodness in the material world, and there, find joy. The way back to ourselves, as individuals and a society, runs through old, earthy things.” (8 min)
The Price Kids Pay: Schools And Police Punish Students With Costly Tickets
When students misbehave, some schools try restorative justice. Others prefer detention and suspension. In Illinois, school administrators ask police officers to ticket and fine young people for minor infractions. Sophia got caught with a vape pen; now she owes $175. Abigail cut school and got hit with a $200 fine. If they can’t pay up, their parents’ tax refunds are docked. The collected money doesn’t go to improve the school environment or support students. It goes to fund the ticketing system. (29 min)
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